As we move into the New Year, it’s a great time to look back at 2017 and reflect on how the betting industry faired in what was a quite tough year for the industry.
With ever increasing pressure from the Gambling Commission and record fines to go with it, 2017 was a difficult year for many bookmakers in the betting industry.
Bookies shut up shop
It’s no secret, the high-street betting industry is dying a slow death. More and more shops are closing each year and the trend is set to continue.
Figures released by the UK Gambling Commission at the end of 2017 show 412 betting stores have closed since this time last year with 304 closing since March 2017. It’s surprising to add that more than half of these closures are accounted for by Ladbrokes Coral. They have had to shut the doors of 255 stores since March 2017.
Ladbrokes Coral still own the largest number of stores in the UK with more than 3,000 across the country. William Hill sit in second with about 2,300.
Triennial betting review
With the forthcoming betting review just around the corner, 2018 is likely to be an interesting year. A year where even more bookmakers close their high street stores. Word on the street is that the Government is going to come down strongly on FOBTs (fixed odds betting terminals).
These machines are a huge money spinner for the betting shops. This is because players can lose up to £100 every 20 seconds. In just 5 minutes the bookie could potentially win £1500 from one very annoyed gambler. It’s no wonder why these machines are known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling.’
In the upcoming betting review, the Government are likely to restrict the maximum stake on FOBTs to anywhere between £2 and £50. A change that will have significant impacts for both the gambler and the bookies. Bettors will not be able to throw away as much money as they once could. Hopefully this means there will be less gambling related problems such as bankruptcy etc.
On the other hand, the bookies would see a huge revenue loss from their high-street betting shops, which would undoubtedly lead to job losses and store closures. It’s a fine line the Government has to tread when restricting such a fundamental part of the bookies high-street platform.
Whilst I completely disagree with the FOBTs and would love to see them restricted, a huge reduction in the maximum stake will force a number of betting shops to close. This will be a great shame for the traditional gambler and the betting industry as a whole.
There are still hundreds of people who love travelling to a betting shop, paying in cash, and watching their events live. An experience that cannot be matched online.
The UK retail struggle
However, I guess it’s important to move with the times. Retail stores in the UK have been struggling for a number of years, trying to compete with their online counterparts. In 2016 a total of 896 stores closed down in Great Britain’s towns. Then in 2017 we saw the demise of a number of well know brands such as Toys ‘R’ Us amongst others.
To further emphasise the shift that the betting industry is going through, the amount customers bet at Ladbrokes Coral over the counter fell 7% between the start of 2017 and April 23. Chief Executive Jim Mullen said the retail side of the business has shown ‘negative trends reported since the middle of 2016’.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Betfred opened 34 new high-street stores meaning their total now stands at 1,671. Whilst this looks good from the outside, this is due to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) instructing Ladbrokes Coral to offload 359 of its stores as part of their £2.3 billion merger.
So all in all, the high-street betting market is still on the downward spiral.
Bookies online sales grow
Whilst high-street stores are struggling, online bookies are still growing at unprecedented rates. Ladbrokes Coral reported a 22% increase in online sales between Jan and April of 2017. This increase in revenue outweighed the drop in retail sales they suffered, meaning group revenue was up 5% overall.
How this affects matched betting
Well you’ll be pleased to know that there is no need for matched bettors to visit high-street bookies. We make all our money online by using the bookies free bets and incentives. Matched betting is one of the best ways to guarantee a profit online risk and tax free.
The recent high street closures do not affect our matched betting in the slightest. In all honesty, it’s probably a good thing.
For some reason, the bookies have always been a little more reluctant when handing out free bets in high-street stores. Perhaps it’s harder to govern or something. Anyway, all you need to know is that the online bookies hand out a huge range of free bets and promotions to new and existing customers.
All in all, it’s clear that the bookies of the future will be mainly online platforms where bettors have a huge range of flexibility and value. This suits matched betting to a tee as there will be endless offers to take advantage of.
It’s a shame that traditional high-street bookies are on the out but I guess it’s inevitable when you look at the retail industry in the UK.
That’s it for this article. Thanks for reading.